Title

Should All Deaf Children Learn Sign Language?

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-1-2015

Published In

Pediatrics

Abstract

Every year, 10 000 infants are born in the United States with sensorineural deafness. Deaf children of hearing (and nonsigning) parents are unique among all children in the world in that they cannot easily or naturally learn the language that their parents speak. These parents face tough choices. Should they seek a cochlear implant for their child? If so, should they also learn to sign? As pediatricians, we need to help parents understand the risks and benefits of different approaches to parent–child communication when the child is deaf. The benefits of learning sign language clearly outweigh the risks. For parents and families who are willing and able, this approach seems clearly preferable to an approach that focuses solely on oral communication.